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Zen in the City

Perhaps it's the recent full moon, but I've encountered quite a bit of unchecked hostility and anger on the streets of NYC recently. Seems that many New Yorkers are generally pissed off, and will lash out at their fellow city-dwellers at the slightest provocation.

Two cases in point: first, I was riding home on a crowded subway Friday evening and a woman near me was carrying a bag on her shoulder, as most women do. The bag bumped me so I repositioned myself a bit; it also bumped the guy next to me. We exchanged glances (subtext -- sheesh, that's kind of annoying; yep, it is) and went back to reading. The next thing I know, he yelled at her, "Hey, watch your bag. It's fucking annoying. Why don't you look and see what you're doing," or some such thing. The woman, startled, moved her back out of the way and apologized sheepishly. Then, after a breath, she turned to him and says "You know, all you had to do was say 'would you please move your bag." The man, flustered, apologized to her, and then to me (as I'm sure I had quite a look on my face due to his overreaction). He got off at the next stop and I had a long chat with the woman and her friend about why he possibly reacted that way and how great it was that she called him out on his behavior.

The next day, I was riding my bike up to Central Park on the 8th Avenue bike path. I was waiting at a red light and, admittedly, my front tire was partially in the crosswalk. A man on the sidewalk says to me, "why don't you just go through the light?" And I responded, "I always abide by the lights; it's safer." He then says, "but you're blocking the crosswalk -- you're a crosswalk blocker." It's important to note that he was not trying to cross the street in the crosswalk in front of me and nobody who was crossing seemed to have any trouble going around the 6 inches that my bike tire was over the crosswalk markings. He then proceeded to sing a little ditty about my crosswalk blocking: "you're a crosswalk blocker . . .a crosswalk blocker . . ." The light changed and I rode away. Why did this guy feel that it was his duty to discipline me for poking my tire over the crosswalk line -- so much so that he had to compose a SONG about it?!

Breathe, folks. Deep breaths.

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